This looks like a perfectly normal beach, but one step in the wrong direction and you’ll be swallowed by a pit of viscous sand.
And I hope you’ve been hitting the gym because pulling your own foot out of this mess would require the same force as lifting a medium-sized car. Could you do it before you sink completely?
Quicksand is found near riverbanks, beaches and lakes, when sand gets saturated with water. This results in a mushy mixture that can’t support any weight and will engulf any object that touches its surface. Including you. There are quicksand pits all over the world, and today we’ll show you the absolute most dangerous ones. You best listen up before you book your next vacation. Could you float on quicksand? Which pit’s been responsible for more than 100 deaths? Why would you need to lay on your back?
Number 5. The Bledowska Desert, Poland
Yes, there’s a desert right in the middle of Europe and it’s an exceptionally dangerous one. Also known as the Polish Sahara, it’s 32 sq km (20 sq mi) of deadly sinkholes. If you happen to fall into one, try to stay still. The more you move and struggle, the faster you’ll go down. Try to lay on your back with your arms and legs spread. This will reduce the force you exert on the quicksand and prevent you from sinking further.
Number 4. The Qattara Depression, Egypt
This sludgy sinkhole is the largest natural sinkhole on Earth. It extends 19,424.9 sq km (7,500 sq mi) and is covered in salt marshes, salt flats and dunes formed over thousands of years as the rock slowly eroded and winds from the Sahara blew away the sand. If you fall into the Depression, don’t panic. The quicksand has more density than your body, so you’ll float.
Number 3. Morecambe Bay, Arnside, UK
Despite being full of draining rivers, shift channels and quicksand, people still come to this bay for a good fishing experience. Although it can quickly turn into a nightmare. Strong currents create deep quicksand pits that change positions almost daily, making the landscape incredibly unpredictable. Karen Parkinson and her friends were enjoying a day at Morecambe Bay when they heard a warning siren indicating the tide was rushing in. As the group headed inland, one of her friend’s daughters became stuck on the beach. As Parkinson and the girl’s mom tried to free her, they also got stuck. It took a team of a dozen coastguard mud rescuers to save the three of them from potentially drowning just five minutes before the tide came in.
Number 2. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, U.S.
This quicksand is particularly treacherous. It’s surrounded by mud cracks that make it look completely stable. The pits are located within the canyon, where it gets tremendously warm during the day and cold at night. If you’re stuck for a full day here, you can suffer from heat stroke, and then hypothermia could set in a few hours later. The key to surviving Grand Staircase-Escalante is to never go alone. You’ll need someone to pull you out or call for help if you fall into viscous sand.
Number 1. River Thames, UK
The area around the Broomway Trail has killed over 100 people. Nicknamed the Doomway, it is half land, half sea and can only be crossed during low tide. When high tide hits, water covers everything and the sand can become extremely dangerous. On top of that, it can get quite foggy and it’d be easy to get lost or take one wrong step. If you become trapped in the quicksand, you’ll be up to your stomach in water within minutes and you might face the same drowning fate as Broomways hundred other victims. The tide comes full force at around 9 P.M., so you’ll really want to get out of there before dusk.
- Quicksand Science: Why It Traps, How to Escape. Bakalar, N. (2022). National Geographic.
- Utah Hiker Gets Stuck in Chest-Deep Quicksand at Grand Staircase-Escalante. Browne, E. (2022). Newsweek.
- Where Is The Qattara Depression? Wee, R. (
- The World’s Largest Sinkhole Could Be Used To Power Egypt. Here’s How. Jennings, K. (2014). Condé Nast Traveler.
- Poland’s hidden oddity: A mini Sahara desert. Newton P. and Chubb, L. (2014). CNN Travel.